A Roman fort in Holland is linked to the conquest of Britain

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A wooden plank was found in Holland dated to the winter of 42AD, just months before the Romans made Britain part of the empire

Save time by listening to our audio articles as you multitaskA few miles from these pillboxes, near the town of Velsen, archaeologists have found remains dating from a more successful invasion. In November the head of a dig sponsored by the Dutch Research Council announced that the Roman fort he was excavating had been bigger than anyone thought. Rather than a, hosting thousands.

The Roman presence near Velsen was known since 1945, when children found pottery shards in an anti-tank ditch. The first fort in the area, built around 15and rediscovered in 1972, was the site of a nasty battle: archaeologists found slingshot pellets and human remains. Many identify Velsen with Flevum, aThe much bigger second fort was built under Emperor Caligula, whose coinage was found there . “Caligula didn’t have any military credentials.

Caligula seems to have visited the region to inspect the preparations. Wine barrels stamped with his seal have been found near Utrecht and Valkenburg. But by the time the fleet left northern France, he was dead, and Claudius would reap the glory. Invasions are often vanity projects launched by insecure, hedonistic autocrats. They seldom go as planned.

This article appeared in the Europe section of the print edition under the headline "Imperial invaders"

 

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